PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Portland non-profit Cultivate Initiatives is holding a holiday fundraiser to provide meals for their interns who are often unhoused, according to the organization.

Cultivate Initiatives works with community members “who have been marginalized, especially those experiencing houselessness, to workforce development, community health and housing and sheltering,” said Matthew McCarl, Cultivate Initiatives community engagement and action director.

McCarl told KOIN 6 News that the non-profit’s intern program “helps connect unhoused neighbors with short-term work opportunities and resources as they re-enter the workforce.”

During the internship program “folks will show up to orientation and they’ll get straight to work with our community beautification team. This is a team that is staffed by people that have experienced houselessness, as well and they go out through east Portland and remove garbage,” McCarl explained.

According to McCarl, the organization has removed over 850,000 pounds of garbage throughout the last year.

Cultivate Initiatives also helps its interns overcome barriers from employment to get resources like IDs, driver’s licenses, resumes or getting them into treatment, McCarl said — noting almost all of the non-profit’s interns are unhoused.

“Our interns are showing up every day in tents, RVs and often don’t often have food to get them through the day. So, we’re able to provide that meal, that’s one thing less that’s going to be holding them back from getting back into employment,” McCarl said.

The organization has had 111 interns, 28 of which were hired for full-time positions at the non-profit.

McCarl also pointed out the program is looking to build more employment partnerships to help interns find jobs.

Cultivate Initiatives website

Donations to Cultivate Initiatives or information regarding employment partnerships can be found on the Cultivate Initiatives website.